Formed in 1997, the Lutheran Services in America (LSA) national network model accelerates transformational change. One key decade-long movement has been LSA’s implementation of learning collaboratives that target systemic changes in the welfare of all, from children to older adults. This results-based work is grounded in equity and community.
One groundbreaking outcome of LSA’s learning lab work was the Results Innovation Lab (RIL), which began in 2016. The RIL aims to lead change in the child welfare system, where LSA’s impact decreased the disproportionate number of children of color separated from their families, reduced youth of color’s length of stay in foster care, and improved outcomes for children transitioning out of the child welfare system (Oftelie, 2022). In fact, the RIL has been so successful that LSA already met their Moonshot Goal ahead of schedule— dramatically improving the trajectory of 20,000 children and youth significantly ahead of their 2024 target so they can grow up to be healthy, productive adults. The Results Innovation Lab includes the Results Network of equity-focused leadership-building learning collaboratives, and the Family Stabilization Initiative, the focus of this Toolkit.
The Family Stabilization Initiative (FSI) is LSA’s effort to engage a range of stakeholders to work in a broader ecosystem to achieve equitable outcomes for children and families and drive systemic change (Oftelie, 2022). Aligned with the direction of the federal government (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2023), LSA is accelerating the shift in child welfare from intervention to prevention (Oftelie, 2022). The FSI is a unique opportunity because it provides resources to expand and implement evidence-based programs while, at the same time, building organizational capacity and peer learning (Young, 2021). This Toolkit includes a review of LSA’s implementation of the C.A.R.E.S. and WISe models, which recognizes family strengths and ensures flexibility in responding to and advocating for families and is embedded in local and culturally specific contexts by prioritizing large and diverse community partnerships. The C.A.R.E.S. model is one of only two evidence-based practices for wraparound services with high child welfare relevance (CEBC, 2023).
The Family Stabilization Initiative Sustainability Toolkit was developed by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago in partnership with Lutheran Services in America. Chapin Hall designed and implemented a multifaceted approach to gain comprehensive understanding of the FSI and its core sustainability components. Chapin Hall first reviewed the FSI and participating affiliates’ existing documents, including meeting notes, sustainability tools, and evaluation reports. Next, Chapin Hall engaged LSA leadership, the FSI team, and participants in a series of discussions about sustainability successes, sustainability challenges, and experiences being part of the learning collaborative.
Who is this Toolkit for?
The Toolkit’s Equity-Centered Sustainability Key Components are geared toward decision-making staff in human service organizations. The Toolkit provides grounding in the key components and values of the FSI. The FSI is designed to be used in tandem with implementing and sustaining evidence-based practices, using peer learning that expedites innovation, and race equity goals. The Toolkit is most directly suitable to:
- Senior leadership
- Development directors
- Program managers
- Program model developers